What Happens to Your Underground Storage Tanks After a Flood?

Your Underground Storage Tanks After a Flood

Intense heatwaves followed by heavy rains is a perfect recipe for flooding disasters. However, floods can happen when ocean waves come onshore, or when the snow melts too fast. Therefore, this weather phenomenon can occur anytime during the year. Furthermore, floods can happen seemingly instantly as in flash floods, or over extended periods lasting weeks. A flood can be classified by a few inches or with waters the height of a building. And did you know that floods are the most common and widespread of all weather-related natural disasters? It occurs in every U.S. state and territory. In the U.S., floods kill more people annually than tornadoes, lightning, and hurricanes. So what happens to community structures during and after a flood? In particular, how are gas stations affected? Can they reopen after a disaster? What are the steps for clean up? Read on for the answers to these questions, and so much more.

How are Underground Storage Tanks (UST) affected by floods?

Even the most solidly constructed UST can become displaced or damaged during a flood. Here are some of the example of issues that can occur to a UST during a flood.

  • Buoyancy: When floodwaters surround a UST, the ground becomes over-saturated. If the tank is not adequately anchored, it could shift or even lift off the ground. It could cause a rupture or separation of the connecting pipes, thus releasing the product into the environment.
  • Erosion and Scour: Fast-moving water causes the soil to wash away. This erosion could expose the UST to stressors from floodwater pressure, making it vulnerable to floating debris. The debris can settle in the UST, causing the product to rise and perhaps leak into the environment.
  • Electrical System Damage: Many electrical components could be affected by extended contact with floodwaters. Devices such as emergency shut off valves, tank gauging systems, panel boxes, submersible turbine pumps, dispensers, motors, and cathodic protection systems.

What are the procedures to follow directly after a flood occurs?

Once the waters have receded, and your area is deemed safe for re-entry by the authorities, there are specific procedures to follow. You must Inspect and ensure the UST integrity is intact before receiving a new product. Furthermore, even if floodwaters did not flow over the station do not assume that your system may not have been affected. The water table could have risen, thus causing problems.

Are there actions to be taken before starting the system back up again?

  • Make sure all power has been turned off to any tank system equipment.
  • Determine whether product has leaked by performing a thorough inspection of the areas around the tank, including any secondary containment, sumps, and under-dispenser containment.
  • Check for water or debris within the UST with a gauging stick or water finding paste.
  • If water is detected, have the fuel tested to ensure it complies with quality standards.
  • If the electrical system is deemed operable, return power to the tank system.
  • Inspect all critical safety devices such as shear valves, stop switches, isolation relays, etc.
  • Check the leak detection system operation, and restore as soon as possible.
  • Inspect all components such as pumps, fill pipes, and vent lines for damage.
  • Empty and clean out all system spill buckets and sumps
  • Perform a tank system tightness inspection before adding product.

What are the steps to be taken as part of the system re-start up?

  • Test the spill buckets and sumps to ensure all fittings are tight.
  • Test the cathodic protections for proper operation.
  • If water was detected in the interstitial spaces of the tanks or lines, these spaces must be drained and flushed.
  • Test all components of the leak detection systems such as the electronic monitoring consoles, line leak detectors, sensor, etc. for proper functionality.

If your C-Store or gas station has experienced a flood, contact Clean Fuels Associates. Our team of experienced engineers can get your business up and running as soon as possible. We will follow all the after flood procedures to ensure your system is unharmed. Furthermore, our team will ensure the environment is also safe should product have leaked. Trust Clean Fuels with the integrity of all your underground storage tanks and fuel systems.